Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Defectors and activists in South Korea filed a constitutional petition against a new law that bans anti-North Korean activism at the border, claiming the rule is "excessive" and interferes with freedom of expression.
Representatives of groups that have previously sent anti-Pyongyang flyers by helium balloon near the demilitarized zone said Tuesday the blocking of leaflets is going too far and a violation of free speech, Yonhap reported.
Activists affiliated with 27 organizations, including North Korea In Direct Way, Kuensaem and Mulmangcho said the anti-leaflet law that passed earlier this month uses domestic security concerns as a "pretext" to prevent information from the outside world reaching North Korea.
Activists said their work posed minimal risks to South Korean border residents. Defector Park Sang-hak of Fighters for a Free North Korea launched balloons at night, which does not affect safety of the population, they said.
In June, North Korean politician Kim Yo Jong had called defectors "human scum" and "mongrel dogs" for sending leaflets that denounced the leadership of her older brother Kim Jong Un. South Korea subsequently called for an audit of defector organizations, and ruling party lawmakers supported and passed a law banning leaflet activism. The law, which takes effect on March 30, also bans the use of loudspeakers, which the government once used as part of "psychological warfare" against the North.
Most South Koreans are aware of human rights abuses in North Korea, and more people could be supportive of Seoul's attention to the issue.
The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights said Tuesday during a seminar in Seoul that 64.6% of South Koreans in a new survey said their country should "actively intervene in North Korean human rights." The poll of 1,000 adult men and women in the South was conducted by phone, according to KBS.
In November, Seoul decided for the second consecutive year to opt out of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning the human rights situation in North Korea.